Benjamin Korthuis at the U.S. Western Regional Oireachtas Irish Dance Competition held in November in Denver, Colo.


Arlington's Benjamin Korthuis, 14,  will be going to the national Irish dance competition this summer after a strong finish this November.

Benjamin finished sixth in his age group at the U.S. Western Regional Oireachtas Irish Dance Competition, which he competed in from Nov. 22 to 24.

An ‘oireachtas’ is the name for an Irish dance tournament.

The Arlington local practices about 15 hours a week at Irish dance.

“I’ve been doing this for about four years now,” said Benjamin, who has been going to Grafton Street Academy in Edmonds.

He said that Irish dancing is athletic but also meant to be enjoyed for it’s aesthetics as well.

“Irish dancing is kind of a sport and a performance at the same time,” said Benjamin.

“It’s really hard but also really fun,” he said.

The dances in Irish dance competition are often intricate and involve many different types of movement that the dancer has to be aware of.

“The hardest parts are usually all the special steps. There are many little details you have to pay attention to as you are dancing,” said Benjamin.

He said he enjoys all the physical activity.

“My favorite part about dancing is how much I get to move around, and receiving the awards, of course,” he said. Putting on the costume is also a fun part of the competitions, he said. “My costume is amazing.”

In November Benjamin competed in the western regional competition, which is a region that spans 13 states along the western U.S.

“It was quite an adventure to go down and watch him,” said Leana Korthuis, Benjamin’s mother.

They traveled to Denver, Colo., where Benjamin said the weather was a lot different.

“It was really dry in Denver,” he said.

Benjamin and his mother both said they were looking forward to the competition.

“I was pretty excited,” he said.

Over three days he competed with dancers from around the region and placed sixth in his age group.

Leana said that his peers were happy when they announced the winners.

“We were really excited. Our other students from Grafton Dance Academy gathered around and watched as a group as they were announcing the awards,” she said. “It’s a pretty big honor.”

Benjamin had hoped to get a better placement himself. “I was disappointed I didn’t place higher,” he said.

The performance was still good enough for Benjamin to get a ticket to the national competition in July though, where he will compete in Nashville.

“I am plenty excited about it,” he said.

“I feel that I should have plenty of time to get ready for the upcoming national competition.”

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